White Sox

Kenny Williams, Ozzie Guillen's troubles a thing of the past

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Kenny Williams, Ozzie Guillen's troubles a thing of the past

Kenny Williams vs. Ozzie Guillen is apparently water under the bridge.

The executive vice president and former manager had an infamous falling out that led to the end of Guillen's tenure as White Sox manager.

But after being spotted chatting ahead of Friday's home opener on the South Side, Williams was asked about the status of his relationship with Guillen. And Williams said any disharmony is a thing of the past.

"We were 18 years old, so 18, it’s a 30-year friendship and a lot of laughs and a lot of good times. We suffered through some bad times together and still managed to have some laughs along the way. We both got together and decided, listen, whatever transpired over the last couple of years really had less to do with he and I and more to do with some things on the peripheral that some were just, created I won’t say falsely, but certainly created with ill intentions," Williams said ahead of Saturday's game against the Twins. "We’ve chosen to focus on all the years we had a great positive relationship and accomplished something very special than some of the other things."

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Williams and Guillen teamed to help guide the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005, Guillen's second season as manager. But after that, the famously opinionated Guillen led the South Siders to just one postseason appearance over the next six years.

Guillen's departure from the franchise was tied to discord between he and Williams' front office. And Guillen had little luck in his lone season managing the Miami Marlins in 2012, infamously complimenting Fidel Castro in the Marlins' new ballpark in the heart of Little Havana.

Though Guillen's personality hasn't always had beneficial results, Williams said that type of personality is what's missing from baseball today.

"I feel like baseball is missing something. I think misses personality and characters," Williams said, "and a guy who has had as much success as he has and has much baseball knowledge as he has and has a desire to be in uniform should be in uniform somewhere. Hopefully he gets another chance to show it.

"As we talked about yesterday, he says, ‘Kenny, I was in my late 30s when all this started. I’m 51 years old now, and I have mellowed.’ I looked at him and said, ‘You’ve what?’ I’m not completely buying it, but I know what you are talking about. I hope he can get in position again to get another opportunity, and there’s no doubt that if he does, he’ll be successful and a little more mellow."

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So Williams thinks that Guillen deserves to be managing somewhere. But that doesn't mean he's surprised Guillen hasn't gotten another gig since he left Miami.

"I’m not," Williams said. "One thing that he has, I think, grown to appreciate — and he’s said it directly multiple times is — he appreciates my honesty and continued honesty, because he hadn’t always gotten that elsewhere. That’s nice on my part to hear. And I’m not going to change, so I told him, I said. ‘Listen, a lot of what you’re going through now was self-created. And in order to have that turned around, you’re going to have to show people that there is that more mature, 51-year old man who’s ready to employ a different strategy.’”

When it comes to that strategy, Williams pointed it out as one of Guillen's better attributes.

With all the focus on analytics in the game these days, the hot managerial hires are the ones who utilize the data to their advantage. Look at Joe Maddon and the buzz he's created on the North Side of town. Williams said Saturday that Guillen, for all his comments over the years and his status as a former player, is far more in tune with the new style of the game than many think.

“He sees positioning, he sees first step quickness, he sees swings and one of the things I don’t think he gets credit for ... we as a whole were always perceived as a scouting and just old-school baseball organization, but he does factor in all of the new-fangled stuff that people talk about, with the sabermetrics and all that," Williams said. "He puts it to good use as well, so hopefully he’s not just considered by the old-guard general managers for another opportunity, but from some of the young guys who employ a different set of strategies.”

It's been 10 years since Guillen and Williams both lifted the World Series trophy. It's been three and a half since Guillen managed his last game for the White Sox.

But anything that happened between the two has apparently been put to rest. These longtime friends — before they were building and managing rosters, they were White Sox teammates in the 1980s — have, according to Williams, put bad times in the past and are focusing on the good.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.